Update: On March 14th, Novo Nordisk announced it would be lowering the list price of some of its insulins. On March 16th, Sanofi made a similar announcement.
Following years of advocacy on affordable insulin for T1International, today Eli Lilly announced that vials of generic insulin Lispro will be available to all US customers for $25 effective May 1, 2023. Some other Eli Lilly insulins will also be made more affordable by the end of the year. Current list prices for insulin can be over $300 per vial.
“This decision for affordable insulin shows the power of grassroots advocacy and organizing,” said Elizabeth Pfiester, T1International’s Executive Director and a person living with type 1 diabetes. “The T1International community has been taking action and asking insulin manufacturers to put patients over profits for years. In October, T1International and people with diabetes demonstrated outside of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, and shared a petition with thousands of signatures asking them to lower their list price of insulin. Today’s announcement from Eli Lilly to lower the list price of their authorized generic to $25 demonstrates the momentum and power behind the #insulin4all movement.”
We know that producing a vial of most analogue insulins costs between $3.69 and $6.16. The Big Three insulin manufacturers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, raised the prices of their insulins in lock-step for years. This pharmaceutical company price gouging means that one in four people who rely on insulin ration due to high cost. Rationing has led to serious health complications and death. T1International calls on all insulin manufacturers to join together to lower all insulin list prices for all patients across the globe.
“In 2017, my son Alec passed away due to insulin rationing because of pharmaceutical greed. I have spoken to Eli Lilly executives several times in the years since, alongside others mourning unnecessary deaths,” said Nicole Smith-Holt T1International’s Ambassador and Leader of Families United for Affordable Insulin, a T1International group that provides outreach, support and guidance for families grieving the loss of loved ones impacted by the insulin price crisis. “I am grateful that they have finally taken this small step for insulin affordability. And, this announcement certainly won't erase Eli Lilly’s history and responsibility for the insulin price crisis.”
While Eli Lilly is also decreasing the price of two other insulin products, Humalog and Humulin, and launching the long-acting insulin interchangeable, Rezoglar, the list prices will still be out of reach for most patients. Eli Lilly and other insulin manufacturers have not announced recent price reductions for other insulins.
“Over 7 million Americans rely on injected insulin to stay alive and healthy. Many use more than one insulin dosage form or type,” said Fiona Mason, US National Director of T1International. “Securing $25 vials of short-acting insulin Lispro is a first step, but more needs to be done to ensure that all insulins and diabetes drugs and supplies are affordable and accessible to all.”
While insulin was first discovered 100 years ago, 1 in 2 people worldwide who rely on insulin to survive still struggle to afford or access insulin. Prices for insulin and diabetes management are inaccessible or unaffordable to many people living with the condition. For example, a person with diabetes in Kenya can spend 55% of their income on insulin and diabetes supplies. In other countries, insulin and supplies can cost as much as 80% of a family’s income or more.
“Here in Zimbabwe, accessing insulin can be challenging for patients and caregivers, sometimes costing 60% of monthly income,” said Laura Munyoro, who leads T1International’s #insulin4all Zimbabwe Chapter. “We run community-based health clinics for diabetes patients to provide support because insulin remains unaffordable to so many.”
Insulin affordability must come with insulin accessibility. Should the cost of insulin come down, manufacturers still need to work to ensure it is accessible to all who need it. Patient assistance programs can change at any time and are not available to all patients. In the past, generic insulin was not available in pharmacies.
“Insulin manufacturers have shown time and time again that they will put their CEO’s profits over patients’ lives,” said Kristen Whitney Daniels, co-Leader of T1International’s Federal Working Group and a person living with type 1 diabetes. “Eli Lilly can roll back this new price structure for Lispro at any time, or put in place other practices to limit its use. That’s why the government also needs to regulate insulin manufacturers to hold them accountable to ensuring the human right to insulin.”
If patients are facing an urgent need to access insulin, please see our insulin access and affordability resource.
These list price reductions come after years of dogged protest and activism by the #insulin4all diabetes patient community, launching the #insulin4all campaign, which has grown into a global movement. T1International supports #insulin4all Chapters and advocates in states across the U.S. and throughout the world.
T1International believes in a world where everyone with type 1 diabetes – no matter where they live – has everything they need to survive and achieve their dreams. The organization accepts no funding from pharmaceutical companies and provides advocacy training and support to volunteer advocates.
T1International is fighting for a world where no one with diabetes has to spend more than 5% of their income on insulin and blood glucose testing supplies each month. To get involved, sign up for updates about our Fight for Five campaign here.